Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Link Dump

Stephen Sackur interviews Kagame on BBC's HardTalk. He doesn't let the president off easily.

The bulk of the LRA, including its notorious leader Joseph Kony, are hiding somewhere in northeast Congo, where they continue to attack civilians in the Ueles, bas and haut. More than 100,000 people have fled from the LRA into southern Sudan. Nevertheless, Uganda announced it is terminating its military operation Lightning Thunder, which was designed to capture Kony, and is withdrawing all its troops from the DRC.

The LRA is not the only stirred-up militia the people of eastern Congo have to worry about. Refugees International says that "The attempted military solution to the FDLR appears far from having succeeded in crippling the rebel group, despite the recent disarmament of over 400 combatants by MONUC. Instead, the operations led to serious consequences for the Congolese in North and South Kivu, including significant new displacements." It recommends that UN agencies and NGOs increase their activities to assist and protect vulnerable populations in North Kivu and South Kivu.

A coalition of NGOs has put out a statement on Congolese women, well worth reading in its entirety:
Women live under the dual cloak of politically-imposed silence, as well as silence due to their gender. Eastern Congo, a region twice the size of Uganda, has borne the brunt of brutal military campaigns since 1998. Tens of thousands of women have been raped by multiple armies from Congo and neighboring countries, often as part of a strategy to humiliate communities and destroy social structures and norms. Many of these women are still in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, still recovering from this trauma and particularly struggling with their sexual and reproductive health. In IDP camps their protection is still not fully guaranteed and some continue to suffer further violence by those who are supposed to protect them. The region has seen massive population displacement, disruption of agricultural activities, and acute poverty. As a result, the standard of living has drastically lowered, with food security becoming a daily struggle, primarily for women and girls whose rights to land and livelihoods have always been tenuous. Overall, across the country, women face social marginalisation and reap very few benefits from their labor.

The UN's Special Rapporteur for the Congo, Walter Kahlin, says that the human rights situation in the Congo has significantly deteriorated in the past year and that human rights violations in the country are now massive and systematic.

The DRC's foreign minister says that he expects the Obasanjo-Mpaka mediation effort to wrap up, now that the rebel threat has been removed. In a reminder of why the Obasanjo pick was never a good one to begin with, students at the London School of Economics are protesting Obasanjo's speech today at the LSE on his work in the Congo. The protesters say that that the former Nigerian president's administration was blemished by a poor human rights record and corrupt economic policies that made poverty worse.

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